On Wednesday, the UCLA Bruins hosted the Washington Huskies at Pauley Pavilion with a couple players from the Los Angeles Lakers in attendance to presumably watch top draft prospect Lonzo Ball put on a show.
Along with D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram watching from the stands, Lakers head coach Luke Walton and assistant coach Jesse Mermuys were also in attendance, via the official Twitter account of UCLA’s Athletic Department:
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) March 2, 2017
On Thursday, following practice at the team’s facility in El Segundo, Walton was asked about attending the game and what he thought of Ball in UCLA’s win over Washington. The Lakers coach seemed to be impressed by the 19-year-old, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
Luke Walton said Lonzo Ball was "good" after seeing him score 19 points in UCLA's win over Washington on Thurs.
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 2, 2017
Although Ball was the main attraction at Wednesday’s game in Westwood, Walton and company were hoping to also get a glimpse of Washington’s Markelle Fultz. The 6’4″ guard was unable to play due to a knee injury.
Walton was disappointed he didn’t get to see Fultz and Ball go head-to-head in a battle of two players in legitimate contention to be draft No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke didn't say much about Lonzo Ball when I asked him about it, except that he was hoping to see Lonzo & Fultz battle (But UCLA won 98-66).
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 2, 2017
With the Bruins currently among the elite teams in college basketball with a No. 3 ranking in the AP Top 25, the Lakers brass will likely get to see much more of Ball this month in the NCAA Tournament. Ball has also already been linked to the Lakers with his father, LaVar Ball, making claims that his son will only play for the storied franchise.
The Huskies, however, are one of the worst teams in the Pac-12. Washington has won only nine games this season and unless they pull off a miracle in the Pac-12 Tournament, Fultz won’t be able to showcase his skills in the NCAA Tournament.
At this point, the Lakers don’t know if they’ll have their first-round draft pick with it being top-3 protected. Los Angeles is on pace to have a good chance of retaining the pick, but it will all come down to the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16.